Why Teach With Google Earth - Poway Unified School District

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					         TechQuest 4: Google Earth Investigation
                                   by Anita Underseth

I have found Google Earth to be an exciting teaching tool for so many different reasons.
First of all, it’s a free download, and aren’t we all looking for “free” these days!
Secondly, it is useful from my teacher computer station to use with the whole class, or
in the computer lab letting students explore individually or in pairs. I have used it
extensively in my plate tectonics unit, locating the plates themselves, displaying the
types of plate movement (convergent, divergent, transform), viewing earthquake and
volcano sites and their relation to the Ring of Fire, etc. It is also a very effective tool for
teaching and displaying information from any unit. You can make up your own “tours”
virtually sending your students all over the world, and your students, too, can make up
tours as a means to display their knowledge and share it with others. It has proven to
be a highly effective tool for student learning and motivation.

The following is an excerpt from a webpage article and discussion on the use of Google
Earth as a teaching tool. -

Why Teach With Google Earth?
                                            Google Earth:
                                             presents a great deal of information in a
                                               geographic context
                                             easy to install and use
                                             an excellent venue for inquiry-based activities
                                             appropriate for educational use in a wide range of
                                               subject areas
                                             an effective tool integrating the study of multiple
                                             a great research tool
                                             accesses to a large active user community with a
                                               public discussion forum
                                             pre-loaded with a wide variety useful data
                                             enables users to create and display their
                                               own data
                                             can be launched easily to explore an issue
                                               that arises during an informal discussion
                                             can work with abundant third-party data
                                               that is available on the web
                                             is available for free download
Google Earth is easy to use and presents, in a visual geospatial context, a great deal
of information that applies to topics that are addressed in geoscience courses and
many other educational settings. By offering the ability to place this information in
combination on a three-dimensional model of the Earth, it can facilitate
understanding of the Earth system and the many subject areas that comprise it,
ranging from natural sciences to social sciences, history, art, engineering and any
other topic that has a geographic component. Information that can be displayed on
Google Earth includes aerial and satellite imagery, the numerous layers offered by
Google's database, and a huge amount of third-party data made available by the
Google Earth Community and on other web sites.

With Google Earth, students can browse casually on their own or engage in
structured inquiry-based explorations individually or in teams. Since Google Earth is
available to download for free for all the major operating systems, students can use
it in school as well as for homework or fun. They can easily create their own data
and save the information in KMZ data files (format for files saved using Google
Earth), or as saved images for incorporation into oral presentations or reports. This
data can be rendered on maps in combination with any other data made available to
the students.

In addition to making it available for students to use for inquiry-driven activities,
educators can employ Google Earth directly as a presentation tool for classes or as a
means of saving graphics for use in lectures. They can also use it to research topics
for use in a variety of educational venues that incorporate electronic presentations,
or printed materials that include maps or other graphics. Google for Educators -
Earth presents advice on how to use Google Earth in educational settings.
    Students will access the Energy Tour kmz file (see attachments) through
Google Earth on their computers. They can follow the Directions (see attachments)
for accessing the KMZ file.

   When Google Earth opens, you may see a Tips window. Close it, or any other
window that may open. When you look to the left, you will see “Layers.” There are
many layers that you can use when navigating around in Google Earth, and they
provide a wealth of information, but for the tour, I recommend not using all these
layers to keep them focused on the tour itself. Make sure that the only Layers
checked are the Terrain, 3-D, and Borders (“Street View” may also be used if your
kids are familiar with it).

Students will then look under the Temporary Places on the left hand side to access
the KMZ file. They should double click on the Renewable Energy Tour. You may
need to click on the + beside the heading in order to open up the individual sites
(scroll down to see                                                  these)
                            As students travel to the
                        different sites (10), teach window
                        will open up with brief information
                        to read on the power source, an
                        image to view, and access to a
                        website that gives them more

                           The Renewable power sources
                        students will explore on the tour
                        are: Solar, Geothermal, Biomass,
                        Wind, Hydropower

                          Students will fill out the accompanying
                          worksheet (see attachments) as they “fly”
                          to the different sites of the tour. When
                          finished with the tour, students will write
                          a reflection in their journal on one type of
                          renewable energy source. They should
                          include reflection on 1) one source of
                          energy that most interests them and why,
                          2) three reasons why we should be getting
                          more of our daily energy from this source.

TechQuest Lesson: Google Earth Energy Tour
                             Author: Anita Underseth

Part I: Teacher Guide

1. Content standards
Sources of energy and materials differ in amounts, distribution, usefulness, and the
    time required for their formation. As a basis for understanding this concept:
    a. Students know the utility of energy sources is determined by factors that are
    involved in converting these sources to useful forms and the consequences of the
    conversion process.
    b. Students know different natural energy and material resources, including air,
    rocks, minerals, petroleum, fresh water, wildlife, and forests, and know how to
    classify them as renewable or nonrenewable.

2. Key concepts addressed by the module
       Humans around the world use many sources of energy in their daily lives.
    These sources can be classified as renewable and non-renewable. Each has its
    advantages and disadvantages. Countries around the world are investing in
    renewable energy sources because of the high costs associated with oil, natural
    gas, etc., and the fact that our supplies of these energy sources are dwindling..

3. Guide to carry out the activities
        A. Engage - Students will begin the lesson with a discussion on what types of
    energy they have used today. Review the terms “renewable” (oil/petroleum,
    natural gas, uranium [nuclear] and coal) and non-renewable” (wind,
    hydropower, geothermal, biomass, and solar) and see if they can classify if that
    energy source was renewable or nonrenewable. (Energy Kids] and [Energy
    Quest] are both kid-friendly websites for energy information) Have them
    think/pair/share about all the headlines/news that talk about “Clean Energy”
    and “Going Green.” The teacher can ask, “Why are people becoming more and
    more interested in investing in and using renewable energy these days? What
    do you think the future will look like for your generation as far as energy usage
    and energy sources?”
        B. Explain – Teacher will explain that renewable energy sources are found
    and used around the world today. Let students know they will be taking a “trip”
    on Google Earth, investigating renewable energy sources throughout the world.
    Give students the Directions page (in attachments) so they may follow along as
    you demonstrate how to open up the Renewable Energy Tour kmz file for the
    whole class. Show them how to open up one of the sites, explaining that they
    will need to read the information and record it on their worksheet (see
        C. Explore – Students will work individually or with a partner on a
    computer. They will take the Renewable Energy Tour and fill out the worksheet
    as they go. They should be able to navigate at the different sites and may want to
    also explore websites listed on the information pages that open up. After the
   tour is completed, they should reflect in journals about which one of the energy
   sources they found most interesting, and be able to give three reasons why we
   should invest more in this type of energy in the future.

4. Teacher Notes
       It is absolutely necessary that the students have had a chance to be on Google
   Earth prior to this lesson. They do not have to navigate for the tour themselves,
   but they should be familiar with it. I would suggest a couple lessons just letting
   them learn how to navigate, locate their houses, learn about the layers,
   exploring, etc. That way, they can concentrate on the tour and not the novelty of
   Google Earth.
       As with any technology, expect glitches. I used this lesson in the computer
   lab so each student had a computer, but when one didn’t open up correctly, or
   Google Earth had a glitch, students just ended up working in pairs on one
   computer, and this ended up being just fine…lots of good discussion along the
   way that deepened their thinking.
       Prior to this lesson which covers just renewable energy sources, students
   have researched non-renewable energy sources in small groups

5. Assessment plan
   - Collect worksheets and check for correct information (4 point rubric is
   - Read journal reflections to check for understanding on renewable energy
   sources and their implications for our future in regards to our energy usage and
   our continuing dependence on non-renewable resources (4 point rubric
   provided on Web site).

6. Technology resources used in the module
   Teacher Computer/Projector (if available)
   Computers (one per student or one per every two students)
   Google Earth (free download)
   Energy Tour kmz file

7. Links

                           Part II: Learning Object

1. Learning object or tool used in lesson
   Google Earth is the tool used for this lesson, using a teacher-made kmz file on
   Renewable Energy sources. Students will explore the various sources of
   renewable energy produced at sites around the world.

2. Student Activities
   Students will “fly to” 10 different energy sites (2 per each of the five renewable
   sources of energy – Biomass, Geothermal, Hydropower, Solar, and Wind) They
   will record information they find on a worksheet, and then complete a journal
   reflection on one of they types of renewable energy sources and why we should
   be using more of it in the future.

3. Directions for use of learning objects
   a. The KMZ file needs to be loaded onto the computers prior to this lesson, or
      students can access the KMZ file through a teacher/district website.
   b. Students can use the Direction Sheet to walk them through the steps to
      access the Google Earth Tour (see attachments)
   c. Google Earth has many layers that can be used or not. When their box is
      checked, the symbols will appear when navigating around the globe. (There
      are many wonderful layers that you and your students should explore, but
      for this lesson, it is recommended that all layers should be turned off
      except for Terrain, 3-D, and Borders (“Street View” may be used if your
      students are familiar with it). The layers are found on the left hand side when
      Google Earth opens up.
   d. Once they open up Google Earth, the Energy Tour will appear under
      Temporary Places on the left hand side menu. Once they open up the
      Energy Tour, all 10 sites will be listed below it. (They may need to click on
      the + sign to open up each individual site)
   e. To “fly” to a site, they just need to click on it. Sites do not need to be visited in
   f. Students will complete a worksheet as they explore each site.
   g. Students will write a journal reflection upon finishing their tour.

7. Additional “Tours” Using Google Earth
       You, as a teacher, can make up your own Google Earth Tours for just about
anything. Be creative! Google Earth is such an effective learning tool that you will
want to use it often. As part of Lesson Study Team for the CyberTEAM project, I was
part of a teacher group that made up a tour on the different types of volcanoes.
Students were asked to identify the type of volcano they viewed after navigating all
around it and reading the information we provided in a window. This tour can be
found on the CyberTEAM project Web site along with the Classification of
Volcanoes kmz file. You will also find an accompanying Volcanoes worksheet
and PowerPoint that we used to review terms that we had already covered in
       After I made up the Renewable Energy Tour, I decided to have the students
make up their own tour. We were studying Biomes, so groups of four chose a
different biome to research. They were given a rubric (included in Web page
attachments) that let them know what I expected to see on their tour. The resulting
student-made tour is found under attachments (Biomes KMZ file), too, along with a
pdf file on how to use html formatting (necessary for inputting information into
Google Earth for the tours). I would suggest making up your own tour before having
students tackle this because you need to learn how to use the html formatting
yourself before teaching it to your students… although, no surprise! They were
much better with it than I was! 

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